A lot has happened since the first announcement of a weeklong lockdown. But People will have to comply with lockdown rules for yet another week. Normally, it wouldn’t be much of a problem. However, the lockdown extension will keep people away from daily essentials like food, water, gas, and medicine.
Unfortunately, local grocery shops and vegetable markets are close for obvious reasons. While the Government has allocated a specific time to open local shops, most are simply too paranoid to visit such crowded places.
While the Government initiated a home delivery service to deliver daily essentials to individuals, it failed to gain any momentum. According to the Himalayan Times article, it only got five orders which weren’t delivered on time due to a lack of delivery vans.
Basically, this started a chain reaction that made e-commerce sites and delivery platforms like Daraz, SastoDeal, Kirana, Bhojdeals, and Foodmandu among several others to take the lead on getting the daily essentials goods from Point A to Point B and satisfy the current needs of the customers at this time of peril.
Despite the short response time, Daraz was quick enough to collaborate with BigMart, one of the largest grocery chains in Nepal, to officially introduce D-Mart, a virtual grocery store operated by Daraz.
“We were already on the process to start our partnership with Big Mart. Due to the circumstances, we simply had to speed up the process. And, we are glad that we could serve people at a time of need,” says marketing representative at Daraz.
Similarly, SastoDeal started a new category aimed to assist in a smooth supply of daily essentials.
“We are working closely with local suppliers to ensure a smooth delivery. Plus, we have added daily essentials like food products and groceries which weren’t present before. We even offer induction-stove and necessary utensils which might not be available everywhere,” adds Sastodeal Team.
SastoDeal isn’t the only platform to add a new category on its website. Other sites like Foodmandu and Bhojdeals also follow suit. Bhojdeals recently announced their partnership with KK Super Mart Nepal to support the community during these difficult times and deliver as many essential items directly to your doorsteps.
Additionally, these symbiotic partnerships aren’t just limited to product suppliers. Various support for different digital wallets and banking apps has been integrated alongside the e-commerce platforms, offering attractive discounts to customers for using cashless transactions.
“There is a cash-on-delivery option for customers. But given the circumstances, we much rather prefer online transactions. Taking that in mind, we have partnered with IME Pay, eSewa, and Fonepay to offer an additional 5% discounts”, says Mr. Sagar Dev Bhatta, a representative at Kirana.
The Government of Nepal continues to assure that there will not be any shortage of daily essentials, even for months to come. However, there are still few who expect the worst in these types of scenarios.
“The situation would’ve been different if it was winter, but it’s not. We have enough supply to last for another three to four months,” assures Sastodeal Team.
Similarly, Daraz is closely working with concerned authorities from the government to ensure a smooth supply. So, there might not even any shortage of daily essentials even if the lockdown is extended.
“It might be difficult to find a few non-essentials items,” claims Mr. Sagar Dev Bhatta, “But there will not be any scarcity on essential items. We are closely working with the suppliers to warrant that.”
Interestingly, the companies have put a limit on the number of order placement on a specific item to prevent people from over-ordering or food-hoarding.
“There will be few instances where products will be “Out of Stock”, however, that will be resolved in a few hours or so. The customers can do their part by ordering ration for weekly or bi-weekly consumption.” adds Mr. Sagar Dev Bhatta.
High Demand with Half Workforce
There is a huge surplus of people ordering online. Compared to normal conditions, Kirana reports “significant growth” in online orders. Unfortunately, the order has to be fulfilled by lesser manpower and resource than before.
According to Kirana’s Facebook post, there were pending orders before the lockdown went into effect, so they are tasked to process those, as well as, new ones that have increased 4 times even with the limited resources.
“Typically, normal deliveries were handled by 17-21 workers. However, we are limited to 8 workers delivering essentials using just 4 vans,” says Mr. Bhatta from Kirana, “It is difficult, especially working additional 12-14 hours at this time, but we are trying our best.”
Typically, the orders consist of at least Rice, Noodle, and Frozen Meat products. So, it is quintessential to get them to their respective place.
“We have about 400% on a typical increase in orders than before. Typically, we used to get about 5000-6000 orders per day. Now, it’s even more. But we are fulfilling those orders with just 15 vehicles at this time. Plus, we have extensive experience in scaling up operations during our many successful campaigns, so we are confident we will be able to cope with any increased demand,” adds Daraz Marketing Department.
Additionally, more than 50% of workers are confined to work from home. Due to the limited manpower and resources, these companies are stuck to deliver just Inside Ring Road. While the number of orders has doubled, the workforce fulfilling those orders have nearly halved.
Allies or Adversary
With almost every e-commerce platform offering daily essentials products, every platform wants to satisfy customers’ needs. So, there might be a minute chance for platforms to compete against platforms.
“Not at all. In fact, in this difficult time, we are working together with our fellow e-commerce companies to ensure we can deliver during the lockdown”, replies Daraz Marketing Department from Daraz, “For now, we are doing what we can do, and if there’s a chance for a collaboration we would be a willing participant.”
Surprisingly, there was a similar response from other e-commerce platforms as well.
“That has not crossed our mind. We are simply not in competition to get more orders here,” adds SastoDeal, “We are simply trying to serve a customer at need. So, if we were to get more orders than we could handle, we would happily refer customers to other sites.”
“No, it is about money. There is no place of competition at a time like this,” assures Mr. Bhatta from Kirana, “We are doing this for the community, togetherness, comfort, and volume control.”
The platforms will be taking necessary precautions to complete the delivery safely. As per Sastodeal, all of their riders have been given proper training, sanitizers, masks, eye protection, and gloves; (PPE) suit for delivery.
Likewise, Daraz also mentioned that they had increased hygienic standards for our employees, sellers, and customers.
Additionally, the companies are sanitizing appropriate food products with organic disinfectants.
“We are taking this very seriously. Our delivery workers are tasked with essential training, sanitizers, and protective gear to protect their and customer’s wellbeing,” adds Kirana, “If there is a specific food product which we cannot use disinfectant, then we isolate that for 24 hours in a separate location before delivery.”
The passion to protect workers’ and customers’ health remains persistent across all the e-commerce platforms.
Message to Customers
There are going to be many challenges in days ahead to achieve smooth up the delivery process. Furthermore, it is understandable that customers aren’t just going to up their trust blindly on such service.
“We are trying our best to prove ourselves to a customer. At this time, we want to step up and show our customers that we care about them and their needs. And this is the time to do that”, concludes Sastodeal Team.
Similarly, Daraz Marketing Department says, “Yes, the situation is bad, but we are glad we are trying our best. Thanks to motivating responses from the customers, we will work even hard!”
“We need to help each other out at a time like this”, adds Mr. Sagar Dev Bhatta, “If you have any complaints regarding our service or performance, directly reach out to us. We would be more than happy to help you!”
As of now, delivery is mostly available inside the Ring Road area for all the major companies involved in this. However, Mero Kirana offers deliveries 5-7km Outside Ring Road. Likewise, Sastodeal also offers deliveries 2km Outside Ring Road. Additionally, the process is underway to establish a delivery system in other districts as well.
Special Thanks to SastoDeal Team, Daraz Team, and Mr. Sagar Dev Bhatta (Kirana) for providing their valuable time for a deep insight. As well as, every other online e-commerce companies in Nepal, thank you!